*(Look at our Holiday Combos at bottom of page)
Topics can also be suggested and then researched to fit your residents interests. Here are just some of the topics that Jeff has lectured on.
(All lectures include Multi-Media)
The History of Radio City Music Hall
Nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, it was for a time the leading tourist destination in the city. This lecture focuses on the unseen areas of this amazing theater, looking at the famous Wurlitzer organs, the hydraulic stages, and the art deco architecture. The venue is notable as the headquarters for the precision dance company, the Rockettes. We also view footage of the famous Christmas Spectacular and Rockettes.
Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian. During a career that spanned 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage. We look at Judy Garland's bio, and see Judy in action through a lot of her films, and concerts.
“The Roaring Twenties”
The 1920s were an age of dramatic social and political change. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. The nation’s total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but unfamiliar “consumer society.” People from coast to coast bought the same goods (thanks to nationwide advertising and the spread of chain stores), listened to the same music, did the same dances and even used the same slang! In the nation’s big cities, the 1920s were roaring indeed.
“Thanks for the Memories” - The History of Late Night Comedy
It’s a field filled with big personalities, larger than life late night television comedians and conversationalists who put America to bed each night. From Jack Paar’s extemporaneous small talk to Steve Allen’s infectious laugh to Johnny Carson’s witty monologues, and all the big personalities that filled the guest chairs, America has had a love affair with late night television programming for years.
Princess Diana – The Queen of Hearts
From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, the Princess was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an image of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues, and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world.
Western Expansion and the Gold Rush
The story of the United States has always been one of westward expansion, beginning along the East Coast and continuing, often by leaps and bounds, until it reached the Pacific, what Theodore Roosevelt described as "the great leap Westward." The discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century.
The Golden Age of Hollywood
The Golden Age of Hollywood: 1915 - 1963
The Golden Age of Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the period of classical Hollywood cinema, started with the silent movie era and the first major feature length silent movie called the 'Birth of a Nation' (1915). The Golden Age of Hollywood ended with the demise of the studio system, the emergence of television, the rising costs and subsequent losses notably 'Cleopatra' (1963).
The Battle of AC DC; AKA “The War of the Currents”
One of the most interesting battles in American history was the “Battle of Currents”, or the battle of AC-DC. In the late 19th century, three brilliant inventors, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, battled over which electricity system direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) would become standard. During their bitter dispute, Edison invented the electric chair, and put a convict to death just to show how dangerous AC really was.
The Great Composers and Their Music
The Great Composers - a classical music lecture, will explore the history and lives of some of western classical music's most famous composers and musicians. Classical music is filled with some very colorful personalities and riddled with drama of all kinds ranging from political intrigue to failed romances and everything in between. Throughout this lecture, we will discuss composers and musicians from the distant past all the way to the present, beginning with the greatest, J.S. Bach.
Nutrition in a Nutshell
For years, people held to the idea that there are “bad” nutrients and “good” nutrients when, in fact, all nutrients play a certain role in the body. Even those nutrients once considered “bad” such as fats and carbohydrates perform vital functions in the body and if one consumes too many “good” nutrients such as vitamins or minerals there can be harmful results, as well. This lecture is about the stuff our bodies need in order to stay healthy!
The name Mark Twain is a pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Clemens was an American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain would become a popular public figure and one of America’s best and most beloved writers.
Love in the Digital Age
A new report says most Americans think online dating is a good way to meet people. Almost 60 per cent of Internet users said there is nothing wrong with trying to find a partner on the Internet. This has changed from ten years ago when the figure was 44 per cent. The report is from the Pew Research Center. It says around one in ten Americans has used online dating services.
It also said 11 per cent of people who started a long-term relationship in the past decade met their partner online! What do you think about all of this?
"Get Your Kicks on Route 66"
U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s. In John Steinbeck's classic American novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the road, "Highway 66", was turned into a powerful symbol of escape and loss. (Includes Armchair Travel)
The Art of Minimalism
Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store. But they are wrong. Minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care; and in doing so, it finds life. Also inspired by the new "Decluttering Queen" Marie Kondo, Minimalism, the art of simplicity, has make a big comeback! Art, Architecture, and Music has all been influenced by the idea that less is more.
The Songs of America
A celebration of American history through the music that helped to shape a nation.
Through all the years of strife and triumph, America has been shaped not just by our elected leaders and our formal politics but also by our music—by the lyrics, performers, and instrumentals that have helped to carry us through the dark days and to celebrate the bright ones. “From hymns that swelled the hearts of revolutionaries to the spirituals that stirred citizens to spill blood for a more perfect Union and the blues- and country-infused beats that aroused change in the 1960s, this lecture connects us to music as an unsung force in our nation’s history. Songs of America is not just a cultural journey—it strikes our deepest chords as Americans: patriotism, protest, possibility, creativity, and, at the root of it all, freedom of expression enshrined in our founding document.”
The White House Situation Room
The Situation Room was created in 1961 on the order of President John F. Kennedy after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion was attributed to a lack of real-time information. The room has secure communications systems built into it and the walls contain wood panels that hide different audio, video and other systems. The Situation Room staff is organized around five Watch Teams that monitor domestic and international events. This lecture includes a simulation, and rare pictures of this famous room in action.
"The Sound of Music"
When the Sound of Music was released in 1965 it took the world by storm, earning five Oscars.
For millions of people, the film is the rare combination of a powerful and moving story, first rate music, and breathtaking scenery of Salzburg!
The musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children. Of course this lecture features many scenes from the film, and some very special surprises, including a couple of "sing a longs".
The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Code named Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front. This lecture features rare film footage of the invasion, and rare narratives of some of the witnesses who experienced this incredible day.
"The Rat Pack"
Who hasn’t heard of the Rat Pack? Everybody knows who they were: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, best known for chasing women, filming “Oceans Eleven” in Las Vegas, and performing together in “the Summit at the Sands” while filming early in 1960. That honor went to the Hollywood power couple of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Sinatra joined them once he moved to Hollywood. Bacall gave the group its name, although exactly how it came about is less clear. This much is known: A night of carousing ended back at the home she shared with Bogart. She looked at her friends in various stages of inebriation and mood alteration and said, “You look like a pack of rats.” This lecture uses concert footage, and is very entertaining and nostalgic.
More lecture topics to come..
Topics can also be suggested and then researched to fit your residents interests. Here are just some of the topics that Jeff has lectured on.
(All lectures include Multi-Media)
Three dynastic cycles—the Zhou, the Qin, and the Han—covered many centuries of classical China. The dynastic patterns begun in classical Chinese history lasted until the early part of the twentieth century. A family of kings, called a “dynasty,” began ruling China with great vigor, developing solid political institutions, and encouraging active economies. Using art and music from the period, this lecture explores the history of the ancient Chinese.
Important reasons for India’s distinctive path lie in geography and early historical experience. India’s topography shaped several vital features of its civilization. The most important agricultural regions are along the two great rivers, the Ganges and the Indus. During its formative period, called the Vedic and Epic ages, the Aryans (Indo-Europeans), originally from central Asia, impressed their own stamp on Indian culture. During these ages, the caste system, Sanskrit, and various belief systems were introduced.
Mesopotamia and Egypt
In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians created an amazing culture in the Tigris-Euphrates region, and the Babylonians, developed Hammurabi’s code. It laid down the procedure for law courts and regulated property rights and duties of family members, setting harsh punishments for crimes. This focus on standardizing a legal system was one of the features of early river valley civilizations.
Egyptian civilization emerged in northern Africa along the Nile River by about 3000 B.C.E. It benefited from trade and influences from Mesopotamia, but it also produced its own distinct social structures and cultural expressions.
The Hebrews are descended from Abraham and historically occupied a kingdom (after Solomon, two kingdoms) in the area now called Israel. The two kingdoms after Solomon were called Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom). The term 'Jew' originally meant an inhabitant of Judah. The Jews have a 5,750 year history, tracing their origins to Biblical times. Evolving out of a common religion, the Jewish people developed customs, culture, and an ethical system which identified them as Jews regardless of their individual religious attitudes.
Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World
The rapid rise of civilization in Greece between 800 and 600 B.C.E. was based on the creation of strong city-states rather than a single political unit. Each city-state had its own government, typically either a tyranny of one ruler or an aristocratic council. Sparta and Athens came to be the two leading city-states. Greek art and culture merged with other Middle Eastern forms during a period called Hellenistic, the name derived because of the influence of the Hellenes, as the Greeks were known.
Ancient Roman Virtues and the Lessons of Rome
These are the qualities of life to which every Citizen (and, ideally, everyone else) should aspire. They are the heart of the Via Romana — the Roman Way — and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. Emperors Diocletian and Constantine slowed the spiral of decay but only temporarily; Constantine eventually moved the capital to Constantinople and allowed Christianity to thrive.
Jesus Christ, Early Christianity, Byzantium and Orthodox Europe
Christianity played a major part in the formation of post classical civilizations in eastern and Western Europe. Its beginnings were in the early days of the Roman Empire. Jesus preached compassion with great conviction and charisma, but in his lifetime, he had relatively few followers. Over time, his message of the spiritual equality of all people and an afterlife of heavenly communion with God replaced the comparatively unsatisfying traditional polytheistic religion of the Romans. Later Christians, Paul most notably, saw themselves not as part of a reform movement within Judaism but rather as a new religion. The writings of Paul and other Christians became known as the New Testament in the Christian Bible. By the time Rome collapsed, Christianity had demonstrated immense spiritual power and solid organization.
The Rise and Spread of Islam
In the seventh century C.E. the Arab followers of Muhammad surged from the Arabian Peninsula to create the first global civilization. They quickly conquered an empire incorporating elements of the classical civilizations of Greece, Egypt, and Persia. Islamic merchants, mystics, and warriors continued its expansion in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The process provided links for exchange among civilized centers and forged a truly global civilization.
Understanding Slavery; Past and Present
The Atlantic slave trade predominated in economic affairs after the middle of the seventeenth century. How does slavery work? From the “Bumba” to the Kapo”, this lecture identifies three major slavery systems: chattel slavery, debt bondage, and contract slavery. A chattel slave is a slave because he is born into a family that has been enslaved for centuries. Slavery is illegal throughout the world, yet more than twenty seven million people are still trapped in one of history's oldest social institutions.
The Irish Famine
In the early 19th century, Ireland’s tenant farmers as a class, especially in the west of Ireland, struggled both to provide for themselves and to supply the British market with cereal crops. The potato, which had become a staple crop in Ireland by the 18th century, was appealing in that it was a hardy, nutritious, and calorie dense crop and relatively easy to grow in the Irish soil. By the early 1840's almost half the Irish population but primarily the rural poor had come to depend almost exclusively on the potato for their diet. In 1845 a strain of Phytophthora (blight) arrived accidentally from North America. Much of that year’s potato crop rotted in the fields. The impoverished Irish peasantry, lacking the money to purchase the foods their farms produced, continued throughout the famine to export grain, meat, and other high-quality foods to Britain as debt payments.
The Armenian Genocide; the Untold Story of WWI
The Armenian Genocide lasted from 1915 to 1916 and was the first of much genocide to occur in the 20th Century. Approximately 600,000 to 1.5 million people lost their lives to this genocide. Turkey’s Young Turk government was headed by Jemal Pasa, Enver Pasa, and Talat Pasa. The xenophobic Pasas’ goal was to leave the multinational Ottoman Empire and create a pure Turkish state. Which later became Adolf Hitler’s lesson plan, the Pasas used this cover of war to exterminate the Armenians without interference.
Hostility toward Jews dates to ancient times. From the days of the Bible until the Roman Empire, Jews were criticized and sometimes punished for their efforts to remain a separate social and religious group. They were also hated because of their refusal to adopt the values and the way of life of the non-Jewish societies where they lived. The rise of Christianity greatly increased hatred of Jews. They became seen as outsiders and as a people who rejected Jesus. The Roman authorities ordered and carried out the crucifixion, but the Jews were later scapegoated after Rome became Christian. By the high middle ages (11th-14th centuries), Jews were widely persecuted as barely human "Christ-killers" and "Devils."
The Holocaust (also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jewry and one third of all world Jewry. Jews were the victims of Germany's deliberate and systematic attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, a plan Hitler called the “Final Solution.” Thinking about the use of discrimination, segregation, expropriation, deportation, isolation, and finally extermination, the vastness of this study is too large for one lecture. But with selected detail of some of the unknown facts of the Holocaust, the lessons come to life and are clearly understood.
“White Light, Black Rain”, Duck and Cover; The Atomic Age and Beyond
Through the powerful recollections of the survivors of the atomic bombs that leveled two Japanese cities in 1945, this lecture presents a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first and hopefully last uses of thermonuclear weapons in war. This lecture highlights some of the training films and public service announcements produced from the late 1940's through the 1950's by the United States military and government. The American public was provided information, or misinformation, on the effects of nuclear fallout and how best to protect oneself. There is a disturbing collection of 1940's and 1950's United States government issued propaganda, and films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.
The Murder of Emmitt Till (The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement)
In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all white, all male jury. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement.
“We Shall Remain” The Cultural Genocide of Our Native Americans
This lecture examines the broad political and economic forces that led to the emergence of AIM (The American Indian Movement) in the late 1960's. It also highlights the desperate conditions of Indian reservation life and the assimilation, and urbanization programs implemented by the federal government. The explicit goal of off reservation boarding schools, is articulated in the infamous words of Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Henry Pratt - “to kill the Indian and save the man”.
“Taking it to the Streets”; The Culture of the 1960’s; Civil Rights, and Vietnam
It was a decade of extremes, of transformation, change and bizarre contrasts: flower children and assassins, idealism and alienation, rebellion and backlash. For many in the massive post-World War II baby boom generation, it was both the best of times and the worst of times. The Sixties was dominated by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the first man landing on the moon. Whether it was due to experimentation with drugs or anger over the Vietnam War, the 1960s were an overwhelming decade. From The Beatles, to Woodstock to the Assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, these events shocked and changed the fabric of America forever.
Is "Race" an illusion? Eugenics and Social Darwinism
Using cultural examples, this lecture highlights the idea that “Race” is just an illusion. What is the purpose of racial segregation according to some of the racist groups you are familiar with, i.e. the KKK or Neo-Nazis? The term "survival of the fittest", coined by the English sociologist Herbert Spencer, was a vulgarization of a more complex theory: his compatriot Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The assumption of Social Darwinism is that some societies, races, etc., are endowed with superior genes, (the science of Eugenics), while others inherit inferior genes. These of course were the lesson plans incorporated by men like Stalin, and of course Hitler years later.
The Origins of Halloween and Witches
Lecture: Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
Music Program: Take a trip with the greatest music hits and movie scenes from Halloween, such as the Monster Mash, and scenes from The Wizard of Oz, etc.
Armchair Travel: Travel to Transylvania, the home of Dracula, and vampires.
Christmas and the Winter Solstice
Lecture: Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day "midwinter" (winter solstice) holiday called Yule (also called Jul, Julblot, jólablót, midvinterblot, julofferfest). Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendants of Yule customs.
Music Program: Of course there is no better way than to celebrate the holidays then with music and scenes from holiday films. We also take a look behind the scenes of the Radio City Music Hall Holiday Spectacular! Scenes from the show includes the Rockettes, and of course the arrival of Santa Claus.
Armchair Travel: We travel around the world seeking out the best Christmas markets. We also go to Rockefeller Center in New York City to see the spectacular Christmas tree all lit up and shining brightly!
Lecture: Valentine was a Christian priest who lived in Ancient Rome. In 270 AD, the Emperor Claudius II forbade marriage because he wanted men to be able to concentrate on war and not on their loved one. Valentine carried on marrying couples, but only couples he thought were truly in love. Emperor Claudius found out and Valentine was executed on the 14th February 270 AD. As a result, he was martyred and made a saint.
Music Program: Love songs, love songs, and more love songs! We also look at the greatest love scenes from the films we know best.
Armchair Travel: Of course there are so many places we can travel together to fall in love with our world. Of course Italy and Paris come first to mind, but pick a place, and we will go!